COVID-19, Local, Park Forest, Science

COVID-19: Dare To Eat a Peach

peaches on a tree
“DSC_3854-1” by ewan traveler is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Eat Your Vegetables. Buy Some Fruit.

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- I was wondering how safe it was to buy fresh fruits and vegetables in the age of COVID-19. Is our food safe? Are fresh fruits and vegetables safe from the novel coronavirus? Do I dare to eat a peach when they arrive in the produce section of the spring and summer?

I was wondering, so I did some research.

As of March 27, 2020, the FDA says that food appears to be safe, that one need not take additional measures to prevent the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), or novel coronavirus, from coming into one’s home on food or food packaging.

You may dare to eat a peach.

When they arrive.

That means the food from Farmers’ Markets will be safe as well. We have that to look forward to.

Per the Food and Drug Administration

Currently, there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19.  It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. CDC notes that in general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures. It is more likely that a person will be exposed by person-to-person transmission involving close contact with someone who is ill or shedding the virus.

Consumers can follow CDC guidelines on how to protect yourself, especially the advice on frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; and frequent cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces.  

If you are concerned about contamination of food and food packaging you have purchased from the grocery store, wash your hands after handling food and food packages when you return from the grocery store and after removing packaging from food. In addition, it’s always critical to follow the 4 key steps of food safety—clean, separate, cook, and chill – to prevent foodborne illness. FDA also has advice about safely selecting and serving raw produce.

If a worker in my food processing facility has tested positive for COVID-19, should I test the environment for the SARS-CoV-2 virus?

Currently, there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. Therefore, we do not believe there is a need to conduct environmental testing in food settings for the virus that causes COVID 19 for the purpose of food safety. Cleaning and sanitizing the surfaces is a better use of resources than testing to see if the virus is present.

Facilities are required to use personnel practices that protect against contamination of food, food-contact surfaces, and packaging and to maintain clean and sanitized facilities and food contact surfaces. Although it is possible that the infected worker may have touched surfaces in your facility, FDA-regulated food manufacturers are required to follow Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs). Maintaining CGMPs in the facility should minimize the potential for surface contamination and eliminate contamination when it occurs. With the detection of the coronavirus in asymptomatic people and studies showing survival of coronavirus on surfaces for short periods of time, as an extra precaution, food facilities may want to consider a more frequent cleaning and sanitation schedule for high human contact surfaces.

Is the FDA providing flexibility regarding the nutrition labeling of packaged food for restaurants and other businesses?

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants and food manufacturers may have food not labeled for retail sale that they wish to sell at retail.  The FDA has released a guidance document to provide restaurants and other businesses with flexibility regarding nutrition labeling so that they can sell certain packaged food during the COVID-19 pandemic.

General Information Regarding Handling Raw Produce

The information from “Per the Food and Drug Administration” is directly from the FDA.